Published April 27, 2011
EXCLUSIVE: He is a confidential informant and ex-felon. He lives among drug dealers and corrupt officials along the U.S.-Mexican border. And after a year on the job, he is calling it quits.
"The American public is being led to believe that we have a drug war and border war and a terror war that are all being successfully prosecuted, and that is absolutely not the case," the informant told Fox News. "The American people, the American taxpayer are being bilked for billions of dollars in programs that are utter and abject failures."
The informant took Fox News on a tour of his operational territory, southwest Arizona and northern Sonora. It includes sleazy bars and cheap hotels, places where he meets the people who have connections to guns and drugs.
"This is the fence between Agua Prieta, Mexico, and Douglas, Ariz.," he said from behind the wheel of a late-model sport-utility vehicle as we roll down a dirt road along an iron fence separating the two countries.
He is 6 feet tall and speaks with a slightly Southern accent. He's served time in San Quentin State Prison in California and the Federal Correctional Facility in Tallahasee, Fla., among others, for what he described as fraud related to money issues. It is that prison record that time and again has saved his life as an informant.
"I was brought in to see the matriarch of the Sinaloa Cartel. She sat me down all very polite, which is common in Mexico. She said, 'If the information you've given me checks out, we can do business. If not, you will not leave here alive,'" he said. "A few minutes later, a white guy arrived and took down my bona fides, my prison ties. He was gone almost two hours. When he got back he handed her a paper. She looked at me a long time, then spoke: 'Sit down. Your information checks out.’"
The informant prefers the term "asset." A former Army Ranger, he's worked with numerous federal agencies, including the DEA, FBI, ATF and ICE, as well as the Arizona Department of Public Safety. This afternoon we stopped next to a sewage plant in Douglas, on a hill overlooking Mexico. He pulled out a binder that chronicles a year undercover. It's filled with informant contacts, times and places, and the names of his "handlers" within U.S. law enforcement.
"I supply the photographs, the information, the facts, and they will build the case," he said.
One case involved two men he met at a lounge in Hereford, Ariz. One man, a 6-foot-3-inch white male, wanted to buy 100 pounds of pot. The informant hooked him up with a dealer at $350 a pound. In this case, the seller was state police, and both were arrested.
In another case, currently in the hands of Cochise County, Ariz., prosecutors, the informant set up a California defendant with cocaine who happens to be from the DEA.
"I am motivated by one fact, and one fact only: and that is to make money," he says.
But that is not entirely true.
After serving time and violating parole nine times, the informant says he hopes his current work -- ugly, dangerous and risky as it is -- acts as a form of redemption. A payback, of sorts, for the wrongs he committed. On the other hand, the money is drying up and several cases are going nowhere.
"Frankly, at this point I have little heart left for this country," he says.
As for sharing his story with Fox News, which he agreed to do provided we did not use his name, he says, "It will be good for a few nights public stimuli... three days later it will be business as usual."